The World War of the Ants – The Army Ant

The World War of the Ants – The Army Ant


Some groups just don’t get along.​Some groups just don’t get along.​Every day, billions of soldiers fight a merciless war​Every day, billions of soldiers fight a merciless war​on thousands of fronts, and it’s
been going on for over 100 million years.​
on thousands of fronts, and it’s
been going on for over 100 million years.​
The World War of the Ants.​The World War of the Ants.​Ants are ancient beings that
arose around 160 million years ago,​
Ants are ancient beings that
arose around 160 million years ago,​
and took over a wide variety of
ecological niches so successfully​
and took over a wide variety of
ecological niches so successfully​
that they became one of the
dominant animals on planet Earth.​
that they became one of the
dominant animals on planet Earth.​
Today, they count more than 16,000 different species​Today, they count more than 16,000 different species​with over 10 thousand trillion individuals.​with over 10 thousand trillion individuals.​Collectively, ants alone make up
20% of the entire animal biomass on land.​
Collectively, ants alone make up
20% of the entire animal biomass on land.​
Similar to humans, their
recipe for success is collaboration.​
Similar to humans, their
recipe for success is collaboration.​
While a single ant is pretty useless,​While a single ant is pretty useless,​together, they are able to achieve stunning feats.​together, they are able to achieve stunning feats.​They construct complex colonies,​They construct complex colonies,​care for livestock,​care for livestock,​pursue agriculture,​pursue agriculture,​or have complex symbiotic relationships.​or have complex symbiotic relationships.​And, of course, ants wage war.​And, of course, ants wage war.​Even among the same species, a
constant state of conflict is pretty common.​
Even among the same species, a
constant state of conflict is pretty common.​
Skirmishes, raids, and full-on invasions​Skirmishes, raids, and full-on invasions​are happening every day,
causing millions of casualties.​
are happening every day,
causing millions of casualties.​
Let’s look at some of the most
interesting ones in a series of videos.​
Let’s look at some of the most
interesting ones in a series of videos.​
In this one, the ​​army ant​—a swarm made for war.​In this one, the ​​army ant​—a swarm made for war.​The army ant group consists of about 200 different species.​The army ant group consists of about 200 different species.​Army ants do not build nests;
they live a sort-of nomadic lifestyle​
Army ants do not build nests;
they live a sort-of nomadic lifestyle​
with groups of millions of individuals.​with groups of millions of individuals.​On a hunt, some species form
large columns up to 100 meters long,​
On a hunt, some species form
large columns up to 100 meters long,​
killing and immediately dismembering every
insect or small vertebrate they encounter.​
killing and immediately dismembering every
insect or small vertebrate they encounter.​
The biggest hunting parties can
kill up to 500,000 animals per day.​
The biggest hunting parties can
kill up to 500,000 animals per day.​
Some army ants specialize in
hunting and consuming other social insects​
Some army ants specialize in
hunting and consuming other social insects​
like termites, wasps,
and especially other ants.​
like termites, wasps,
and especially other ants.​
Wasps are fierce, and may seem invulnerable,​Wasps are fierce, and may seem invulnerable,​but if a swarm makes
its way to their colonies​
but if a swarm makes
its way to their colonies​
they don’t even stand a chance.​they don’t even stand a chance.​The much bigger and stronger
wasps might kill a few of them,​
The much bigger and stronger
wasps might kill a few of them,​
but they are quickly overwhelmed.​but they are quickly overwhelmed.​Even if their queen survives an attack,​Even if their queen survives an attack,​the army ants steal the colony’s
larvae, and quickly devour them.​
the army ants steal the colony’s
larvae, and quickly devour them.​
There is no recovery from that.​There is no recovery from that.​When army ants discover another
ant colony, they immediately attack.​
When army ants discover another
ant colony, they immediately attack.​
Now, you might think this would
be a more even battle, but it’s not.​
Now, you might think this would
be a more even battle, but it’s not.​
Because army ants act as a social unit,​Because army ants act as a social unit,​they are especially dangerous and effective.​they are especially dangerous and effective.​Most army ants are not
particularly impressive individually,​
Most army ants are not
particularly impressive individually,​
but they can overwhelm their
victims with sheer numbers​
but they can overwhelm their
victims with sheer numbers​
before the victim colony
can mount an effective defense.​
before the victim colony
can mount an effective defense.​
And so, invasions tend
to be won by the attackers​
And so, invasions tend
to be won by the attackers​
and the prey colony
is damaged significantly,​
and the prey colony
is damaged significantly,​
or is exterminated.​or is exterminated.​Interestingly, army ants
don’t fight army ants.​
Interestingly, army ants
don’t fight army ants.​
When two swarms encounter
each other in the wild,​
When two swarms encounter
each other in the wild,​
they either pass through each
other, ignoring the other swarm,​
they either pass through each
other, ignoring the other swarm,​
or both colonies just move away.​or both colonies just move away.​Which makes sense from
an evolutionary standpoint.​
Which makes sense from
an evolutionary standpoint.​
Army ants that fought other army ants​Army ants that fought other army ants​probably eradicated themselves
millions of years ago.​
probably eradicated themselves
millions of years ago.​
Indeed, they’re so deadly,
that other ant species had to specialize​
Indeed, they’re so deadly,
that other ant species had to specialize​
to survive their presence.​to survive their presence.​Many species just panic and evacuate their
nest when they notice army ant scouts​
Many species just panic and evacuate their
nest when they notice army ant scouts​
carrying as many larvae with them as they can,​carrying as many larvae with them as they can,​in order to return and
rebuild after the attack.​
in order to return and
rebuild after the attack.​
Other species have invented living
bunkers, since fighting is so futile.​
Other species have invented living
bunkers, since fighting is so futile.​
They have worker classes
that have big square heads.​
They have worker classes
that have big square heads.​
When army ants show up,​When army ants show up,​they use them to block
the entrances to their nests,​
they use them to block
the entrances to their nests,​
so the attackers have to give up after a while.​so the attackers have to give up after a while.​But, not everybody is afraid of army ants.​But, not everybody is afraid of army ants.​Leafcutter ants form some of
the largest and most complex societies​
Leafcutter ants form some of
the largest and most complex societies​
of any animal other than humans.​of any animal other than humans.​They live in extensive nests,
many meters deep and across,​
They live in extensive nests,
many meters deep and across,​
harboring millions of citizens with a
highly-sophisticated division of labor.​
harboring millions of citizens with a
highly-sophisticated division of labor.​
Like huge soldiers—100 times
more massive than a worker.​
Like huge soldiers—100 times
more massive than a worker.​
Their sole purpose might be to
defend their colonies against army ants.​
Their sole purpose might be to
defend their colonies against army ants.​
They still have a nemesis though.​They still have a nemesis though.​The diet of the army ant​
​species ​​Nomamyrmex esenbekii​
The diet of the army ant​
​species ​​Nomamyrmex esenbekii​
consists mostly of the larvae of other ants.​consists mostly of the larvae of other ants.​Compared to other army ants, they
have a more robust soldier cast.​
Compared to other army ants, they
have a more robust soldier cast.​
So far, they are the only known species that can
successfully attack a mature colony of leafcutters.​
So far, they are the only known species that can
successfully attack a mature colony of leafcutters.​
When they find a leafcutter colony, hundreds
of thousands attack in a long column.​
When they find a leafcutter colony, hundreds
of thousands attack in a long column.​
The moment the leafcutter ants notice the
army ant attack, they go into crisis mode​
The moment the leafcutter ants notice the
army ant attack, they go into crisis mode​
and immediately alert their soldiers, who
very quickly swarm to the site of attack.​
and immediately alert their soldiers, who
very quickly swarm to the site of attack.​
A frontline develops that can be a few
meters wide, and up to a meter deep.​
A frontline develops that can be a few
meters wide, and up to a meter deep.​
The leafcutter soldiers go
head-to-head with the army ants,​
The leafcutter soldiers go
head-to-head with the army ants,​
locking on them, and try
to cut through their heads.​
locking on them, and try
to cut through their heads.​
Smaller leafcutter workers help
by grabbing the enemies.​
Smaller leafcutter workers help
by grabbing the enemies.​
Small teams carry out
attacks behind the frontline,​
Small teams carry out
attacks behind the frontline,​
where they dismember their enemies
by ripping their legs from their bodies.​
where they dismember their enemies
by ripping their legs from their bodies.​
The attackers, meanwhile, try
to swarm their victim soldiers,​
The attackers, meanwhile, try
to swarm their victim soldiers,​
and sting them to death in a mob.​and sting them to death in a mob.​Despite the powerful defense,
and the determined response,​
Despite the powerful defense,
and the determined response,​
the army ants are still superior in numbers.​the army ants are still superior in numbers.​So, without knowing if the battle can be
won, the leafcutters prepare for the worst.​
So, without knowing if the battle can be
won, the leafcutters prepare for the worst.​
Workers rush to create barricades,​Workers rush to create barricades,​and seal off as many entrances to their
nest as possible to secure their brood.​
and seal off as many entrances to their
nest as possible to secure their brood.​
If the leafcutters are not
able to repel the invaders,​
If the leafcutters are not
able to repel the invaders,​
or at least barricade enough
of their entrances in time,​
or at least barricade enough
of their entrances in time,​
the army ants swarm the nest,
overrunning all opposition.​
the army ants swarm the nest,
overrunning all opposition.​
They penetrate deep into the hidden chambers,​They penetrate deep into the hidden chambers,​and steal tens of thousands
of the leafcutters’ brood to eat them.​
and steal tens of thousands
of the leafcutters’ brood to eat them.​
Even if the leafcutter colony
survives, this is a heavy blow.​
Even if the leafcutter colony
survives, this is a heavy blow.​
Regardless who has won the war,
thousands lay slain on the battlefield.​
Regardless who has won the war,
thousands lay slain on the battlefield.​
When the army ants attack, death follows them.​When the army ants attack, death follows them.​But, there are other species that
form much more dangerous ant armies.​
But, there are other species that
form much more dangerous ant armies.​
Species that form supercolonies,
covering thousands of square kilometers​
Species that form supercolonies,
covering thousands of square kilometers​
over multiple continents, engaging
in wars kilometers across.​
over multiple continents, engaging
in wars kilometers across.​
They deserve their own video though.​They deserve their own video though.​No matter the scale, war
is a part of ant existence,​
No matter the scale, war
is a part of ant existence,​
be it between huge colonies or small
groups trying to fend off a raid.​
be it between huge colonies or small
groups trying to fend off a raid.​
In tropical rainforests, but also in the
cracks of the concrete we walk over every day.​
In tropical rainforests, but also in the
cracks of the concrete we walk over every day.​
Humans have decided that war is not a
thing that they want to do a lot anymore.​
Humans have decided that war is not a
thing that they want to do a lot anymore.​
For ants, though, the other ant
will always be the enemy.​
For ants, though, the other ant
will always be the enemy.​
No, some groups just don’t get along.​No, some groups just don’t get along.​If you can’t get enough of ants, we’re
developing Part 2 of the Ant Series​
If you can’t get enough of ants, we’re
developing Part 2 of the Ant Series​
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Thank you so much to our friends at
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100 thoughts on “The World War of the Ants – The Army Ant”

  1. Thanks to Curiosity Stream for supporting us in making this video.
    Go to https://curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt for a free 31-day-trial.

  2. why every especies kill to survive and everybody look this normal, i need money for survive , why can kill like a spartan to get money or food?

  3. When you’re fighting off ants at the entrance to your colony and your leader surrenders after the enemy ants drop pesticides on Hiroshimant and Nagantsaki.

  4. Ants take over the whole world. Humans move to the arctic and the antarctic. "Can't get us up here can you?"
    A century later. You have earned a free genetic mutation! Ants will now thrive and survive in a cold/harsh climate!
    Humans scramble in their packs to find a reverse Uno card

  5. When I thought I could not find an intresting educational show (except for a few) I just found my favorite. With cool animation, facts and presentation, Kurzgesagt in a nutshell is easily my daily watch

  6. The fact that my local ant is fighting to death with my other local ant outside my door still doesn't convince me we are the worst species in existence

  7. How to NOT end a war: Go giving ants foot like candy and donuts
    How to end a war: Just step on em and use bug spray

  8. Colonel:Sir,the mission has been completed.
    General:Details soilder.
    Colonel: 10 million on the Tesla space Roadster.
    General:That will be all.
    Stares into the night sky

  9. My love and admiration for this channel cannot be overstated! Kurzgesagt works hard on their content, and it shows. As a channel they do so many things right: from branding, to animation, to script writing, to narration, to fact checking, to product consistency — everything they do that goes into their videos, they do very well. I can’t think of a way it could be improved.
    Please keep up the good work!

  10. In the documentary "A Bug's Life" by Disney it was grasshoppers that terrorized the ants. I am confused by this video.

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